The trials of life… a lizard and a terrapin

posted in: Amphibians-Reptiles, Fauna | 2

“Interesting behaviour that I saw and photographed earlier today at Tampines Eco Green…

“I love being out in nature. Weather was pretty lousy today and I visited Tampines EcoGreen in Singapore. The loop trail is around 2.2kms and the other loop a further 0.5km… I walked both twice, with the tripod, 600mm lens and a backpack. Birding was very slow as species were either perched high in bare trees to dry off after a downpour, or too far away to photograph. I saw pairs of coucal and koels, and a lone Brown Shrike at distance. The Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher did not put in an appearance 🙁 . Oh well.

MalayanWaterMonitor-terrapin [AdeHall]

“I spent around 45 minutes sitting very still next to a pond and an Asian Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) appeared. It wasn’t enormous but I’d estimate it at around 1.5 metres (4.5 feet), head to tail. Whilst sitting the monitor passed within 4 feet of where i was. I remained motionless, and watched. I photographed it ‘tasting its surroundings’ (above).

MalayanWaterMonitor-terrapin [AdeHall]

“I also photographed an animal that is not native to Singapore and has done well after introduction, albeit via unplanned introduction. This is the Red Eared Terrapin, aka Red Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegant).

MalayanWaterMonitor-terrapin [AdeHall]

“After a while the monitor had skirted the pool for food and it decided to leave for pastures greener. And then I noticed something strange. Just as the terrapin photographed here had chosen an old floating log to climb onto, a recently hatched terrapin decided to do the same. Except instead of choosing a floating log, it chose, mistakenly, the Water Monitor (above).

MalayanWaterMonitor-terrapin [AdeHall]

“It took three steps before the monitor realised it had a passenger on its back. The monitor turned, grabbed the young terrapin and much to my surprise, proceeded to eat it (below two images).

MalayanWaterMonitor-terrapin [AdeHall]

“I would not have thought that the monitor could have penetrated the terrapin’s shell. It did not appear to do so and had some difficulty in getting the hapless terrapin from its throat to its stomach.

MalayanWaterMonitor-terrapin [AdeHall]

“Light levels were low and whilst not all shots in the sequence I took were clear, those few that are reproduced here at least share the story.

MalayanWaterMonitor-terrapin [AdeHall]

“Later pics show white and red round objects around the lizard’s snout… they are eggs from a water snail

“The trials of life indeed.”

Ade Hall
22nd October 2016

This post is a cooperative effort between Birds, Insects N Creatures Of Asia and BESG to bring the study of birds and their behavior through photography and videography to a wider audience.

2 Responses

  1. Am

    Very interesting! Can we confirm that water monitors do indeed eat terrapins? Are they part of their regular diet? Also, how do the monitor lizards digest the shell?

    Another thing that bugs me is how many terrapins there are these days in our canals and swamps. Just the other day I saw an adult-sized terrapin foraging in a canal near my place, and another day I saw another adult-sized terrapin swimming in the mangrove swamp leading to Pasir Ris beach. The ecological impact of these introduced terrapins needs to be closely studied as irresponsible pet owners seem to be releasing more and more of them into the wild.

  2. denise raskin

    My neighbor brought me a red eared slider and I thought to release in our arroyo until a little research showed this is worst thing to do. As they are aggressive eaters they leave little food for other turtle species.

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